Day nine of the 2014 US Open features the first of the quarter finals of the Ladies Singles, with at least three unexpected participants in action on Tuesday.
Caroline Wozniacki was one that could have been foreseen from the draw, but not many would have had Belinda Bencic, Shuai Peng and Sara Errani as quarter finalists from the bottom half of the draw.
More fancied players in this section included Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber, Aga Radwanska, and Venus Williams, but they all fell by the wayside in week one.
My bets were both winners on Monday, as Flavia Pennetta was a fairly comfortable straight sets winner over Casey Dellaqua once she managed to get set one out of the way, while Kate Makarova edged two tight sets against Genie Bouchard.
The latter was really struggling in the heat and humidity and Makarova did well to hold her focus and finish things off in two.
It’s going to be even hotter in New York today, with temperatures in the mid 30s and combined with more high humidity the heat break rule looks sure to come into play again.
We start from 17:00 UK time (12:00 local) on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court with two first time major quarter finalists.
Belinda Bencic vs Shuai Peng
The 17-year-old Swiss prodigy is the youngest quarter finalist of a Grand Slam since Nicole Vaidisova at the French Open in 2006 (incidentally, Vaidisova makes her comeback to tennis after a four-year absence shortly in Albuquerque) and who’s to say she can’t go further?
Aided and abetted by another former Swiss starlet in Martina Hingis Bencic found a way past a stuttering Jankovic in good style on Sunday and faces a slightly older quarter final debutant in 28-year-old Shuai Peng.
The Chinese player becomes the third player from her country to make the last eight of a major after Zheng Jie and Na Li and this clash today is a first time match-up.
Vaidisova won her maiden quarter final with Venus Williams in that 2006 French Open tournament and Bencic has every chance of emulating that feat as a 2.08 shot today.
This is a clash between two players whose strengths lie more in returning serve than their own deliveries and we’ll probably see a fair few breaks of serve in this one.
It’s a tough one to call, as the prices suggest, but I’m just siding with the greater experience of Peng, whose unusual style and excellent current form gives her a slight edge.
Caroline Wozniacki vs Sara Errani
This quarter final match up features two players with a fair bit more experience at this level and Wozniacki looks to have a fine chance of making the final, but will she make the mistake of looking too far ahead?
Regardless of what she says publicly it’s surely impossible not to look at the drawsheet as it currently stands and not think “I can make a final here”.
To look past the determined Errani costly for the Dane as Williams found out when playing late night doubles the night before a morning start against Errani and she was beaten – perhaps not as a consequence of the doubles but it can’t have helped.
Wozniacki and Errani have met on three occasions in the past – two at tour level – but not for almost four years now and much has changed since then.
The Dane has improved her serve and her movement, which was always very good, is now even better and she’s playing in a more attacking style, although her forehand still isn’t going to be a match winner against the very best.
It should be good enough against Errani though and if Wozniacki plays her best and doesn’t underestimate the Italian she should come through this one with a bit to spare.
Most of the players that Sara defeats tend to have only themselves to blame for trying to blast her off court and then they drown in a sea of errors, as Williams did.
That is not going to happen to Wozniacki, who will be more patient in her approach and make her winners from her trusty backhand and improved volleying in what should be an all-court contest.
I think Errani may prove a tougher nut to crack than the prices suggest and the over 19.5 games looks good here at 1.93.
Back Peng to beat Bencic at 1.71
Back over 19.5 total games in Wozniacki/Errani at 1.93